Support, Advice and Experience within the Property Market

Unlocking the potential from empty homes

From Robert Ulph on October 18, 2019

I have written before about how we, in this area, are all too aware of the pressure to build new homes and how planning proposals are put forward on a regular basis.

Ipswich alone is facing planning developments in the Ipswich Garden Suburb of 3,500 homes and the Northern Bypass potentially introduces a further 15,000 homes. But there still seems little chance of the Government’s national target of 300,000 new homes per year by the mid-2020s being achieved.

Alternative solutions need to be sought and it is interesting to see latest Government data shows that over 216,000 homes in England have been empty for over six months. In all, over 600,000 homes are currently vacant dwellings.

The Government publish data annually on vacant dwellings for each local authority and across Suffolk there are currently nearly 8,500 empty homes and in the Ipswich Borough Council there are 1,343 vacant dwellings.

Many of these will have potential to be brought back into use and the benefits of this are wide-ranging. It may that families can be rehomed from temporary accommodation or that much-needed rental properties come onto the market. Locally we know that demand of rental properties is outstripping supply and if some of these vacant properties can come back into use, we have additional available property for those who need it.

The property owner benefits as vacant property is a target for all sorts of activity and vandalism, so having their property back in use means their property is being looked after, heated and occupied. In addition, the owner will benefit from rental income from their previously empty property.

Local communities will benefit from having fewer empty properties which always helps in transforming or maintaining their neighbourhood.

Action on Empty Homes is an organisation which raises awareness of the waste of long-term empty homes and campaigns for changes to national policy. They argue that action should be taken and where appropriate, these empty properties could be used provide a good quality home to someone that needs it. ARLA Propertymark is supporting their work and the Nationwide Building Society’s proposals to bring empty homes back into use by:

  • Restarting the Empty Homes Community Grants Programme, which was in place until 2015 and funded community groups to bring empty homes into use.
  • Ensuring local authorities have the ability to work with owners to bring properties into use.
  • Reviewing the tax system, including council tax and stamp duty to see how it can encourage homes to be brought back into use.

If you need any advice on how to bring an empty home back into use please get in touch as I am always happy to help. There is great potential to provide a home to somebody who needs it and rental income from a once vacant property.

If you need any advice or would like to discuss any other matters on the local property market, please do not hesitate to contact me.